Dear VT: Best Veg Substitutes for Bacon?

We get lots of questions from our readers. Here, VT editors respond.

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VT reader Richard asks: “I am switching to a vegetarian lifestyle, but I still on occasion crave meat. Just wondering if you had a good alternative to bacon? Seems to be my worst addiction.”

Not to worry, Richard! You don’t need bacon to get that rich, smoky flavor and crisp-chewy texture. (Extra incentive to ditch it: a new study finds that eating bacon regularly could negatively impact male fertility.) You can always find veggie bacon strips in the supermarket fridge or freezer section, but if you want to get more creative, here are five easy swaps:

Sun-dried tomatoes The oil-packed kind adds rich, salty goodness to scrambled eggs, soups, and pastas. Use in moderation—a little goes a long way.

Crispy fried shallots Got oil? Got shallots? That’s all you need to make this crunchy, sprinkle-on-anything topping. (Try the ones in our Green Beans with Walnuts and Shallot Crisps.)

Veggie chipsVT food editor Mary Margaret Chappell is all about putting BBQ-flavored Terra Chips in her CLT sandwich (chips, lettuce, tomato). Other smoky sammie add-ins: grilled tofu slices and smoked cheese.

Roasted mushrooms Earthy-tasting shiitakes get crispy on the outside but stay juicy on the inside. Marinate in soy sauce to up the umami factor.

Tempeh bacon Make it yourself with this vintage VT recipe, or whip up the crumbles in our Warm German Potato Salad. They take only 5 minutes to make!

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